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St. Petersburg celebrating St. Xenia of Petersburg Day

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Saint Xenia of Petersburg, a heavenly patron of the city, was a fool for Christ’s sake, who appeared insane but in fact disdained the earthly for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Saint Xenia of Petersburg, a heavenly patron of the city, is commemorated on this day by the Orthodox Church. 

Saint Xenia lived in St. Petersburg in the 18th century. After a sudden death of her husband, Colonel Andrey Feodorovich Petrov, who served as a court chorister, Xenia, who was 26, gave away all her possessions to the poor and dressing in the clothes of her late husband and asking to be called by his name started wandering around the city. 

She told people that it was she, and not her husband, who had died. Her relatives thought that she had lost her mind from her grief and petitioned the authorities to prevent Xenia from disposing of her wealth, but after talking to Xenia the officials concluded that she was perfectly sound of mind and had every right to dispose of her property as she pleased.

Saint Xenia spent 45 years wandering the streets of the poorer part of St. Petersburg, possessing nothing, taking next to nothing from those who wanted to give her money or clothes (and, when she did take something, she immediately gave it away to the poor), helping people in any way she could, and spending nights praying in a field no matter what the season or the weather was.

Eventually, people who at first considered her an insane beggar started to realize the greatness of Xenia’s soul and noticed her gift of prophecy. If she entered someone’s home or accepted help from someone, it was considered a good sign. When Xenia died, she was buried in the Smolensk Cemetery, where she helped build the Church of Our Lady of Smolensk carrying bricks to the site in secret at nights. Soon after her death, her grave became a place of pilgrimage, and those who asked Xenia for help did receive it.

Nowadays, there is a church dedicated to Saint Blessed Xenia in the district where she lived in St. Petersburg. It was built on the site where her house is supposed to have been and was consecrated just six months ago. Yesterday, Metropolitan Varsonofy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga held a festive service there.

Photo and video: St. Petersburg TV channel

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